Archive for the Category ◊ Tips & Testimonials ◊

Views 09 Ene Frequently Asked Questions about Machu Picchu
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Nowadays, there is so much information available on the web about a tour to Machu Picchu that is it very easy to confuse yourself. Hopefully this article of definitive answers to some commonly asked questions will clear a few things up for those planning to visit the “Lost City of the Incas” in Peru.

  1. Is it necessary to use a travel agency to go to Machu Picchu?
  2. No, this is not a requirement. Technically you could travel to Machu Picchu organising everything yourself. However, the huge advantage of reserving with an agency is that they organise absolutely everything for you, at the same or even cheaper price for the complete excursion.

    Machu Picchu

    It so happens to be that in Cusco you have to buy every single bit of your tour to Machu Picchu from many different websites and offices, that are scattered all over town. Trains, buses, entrance tickets, guides and possibly hotels all require advanced booking one way or another, implying a very time consuming process. To make matters worse, the maddening red tape and communication in Spanish generally turns out to be a nightmare to the foreign visitor. To avoid any inconveniences and bad holiday experiences, it is highly recommendable to leave all the organizing up to an established travel agency in Cusco. You will be able to communicate with the same contact person about your entire travel itinerary, ask any question you like while counting on years of experience backed up with a travel service guarantee.

    In addition agencies may also get discounts for certain items of the trip, such as trains and hotels, due to the volume of passengers they manage. Therefore, if you were to do everything separate from an agency, you may find out it is actually not cheaper at all.

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Views 07 Ene Trains! Trains! Trains to Machu Picchu!
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If you don’t fancy hiking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu for several days and unless you want to take 4 mini-buses with crying babies and local produce, a small train overall taking about 10 hours, you better take the direct train to Aguas Calientes from Cusco. Unfortunately this process has been made overly complicated and quite expensive, due to it being the main route to see Machu Picchu, the jewel of the Inca Empire and the most important Peruvian tourism site in the country.

In order to decipher everything surrounding these direct trains, here is a guide to help you make a more informed decision about your excursion to Machu Picchu:

1. Train Stations
Cusco is not served directly by a train from Aguas Calientes. Due to the altitude difference (Cusco at 3,400masl and Aguas Calientes at 2,000masl) the trains won’t go straight to Cusco; the time it would take to do this would add hours onto any journey.

Therefore, on a train from Aguas Calientes you reach Ollantaytambo, where 90% of trains stop, or Poroy, around 20 minutes away from Cusco city. Of course, a train all the way to Poroy is much more comfortable, with less hassle, but there is only a limited time schedule and they are often more expensive.

Trains take approximately 90 minutes to reach Ollantaytambo from Aguas Calientes, or 3½ hours to Poroy. At both stations, a minibus or taxi will get you back to Cusco.

Aguas Calientes

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Views 07 Ago Top 10 Travel Destinations in Bolivia
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In this country of 1.1 million km² live only around 9 million people, mostly indigenous natives from the Aymará culture that live in the barren highlands of the Andes. Many lost wars, in which they also lost their passageway to the Pacific Ocean, have made this one of the poorest countries on earth. On the other side it is so rich in culture, religion and superlatives: Bolivia’s colorful city La Paz is the highest metropolis in the world (4000m.), the Titicaca Lake (with one part belonging to Peru) is the biggest sweet water lake in South America and the salt plains of Uyuni are the biggest salt desert of the world.

Top 10 Travel Destinations in Bolivia

These are also Bolivia’s most famous tourist attractions. However there is much more to explore on your holidays; imagine spending your days in a different world while discovering urban treasures in colonial style, booming folkloric festivals and the magic of nature in remote jungle lands.

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Views 14 Jun Tipon: the perfect daytrip from Cusco
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I have now been in Cusco for almost a year and I am never lost for things to do. This particular weekend I was accommodating some friends that came to town to tackle the famous Inca Trail.

However, before they headed off on their big adventure I felt it would be appropriate to go for a small acclimatization walk. I decided that Tipon would be just the place.

At first glance we could not help but be impressed by the sheer size of the complex and the intricate jigsaw piecing of the enormous stones placed in such a form to achieve perfectly flat and symmetrical surfaces.  The calculations that would have been made in order to accomplish this perfection included factors such as the gradient of the waterways and the angles of the channels that were constructed in order to slow the speed of the water.

Tipon: the perfect daytrip from Cusco!
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Views 06 Jun Top 5 Machu Picchu Side-trips!
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Machu Picchu is been considered, by its astonishing magnificence and harmonious construction, as one of the most important architectural and archeological monuments of the planet.

Surrounded by mysteries, because archeologists have not been able to decipher the history and the function of this stone city, erected by the Incas in a magic geographical zone, where the Andean and the Amazonian come together.

To really appreciate this significant location we suggest to take your time and explore these easy to reach nearby destinations:

  1. The Sun Gate

    Top 5 Machu Picchu Side-trips! Watching the sun rise over Machu Picchu is magical. Getting up early enough and making sure you get to the Inca Sun Gate in time to watch the sun slowly appearing from behind the snow-covered peaks, just as the Incas did, is a once in a life-time experience. It is recommendable to make your way to Machu Picchu around 4 am as it is still a good hour’s walk to the Sun Gate after you passed the main entrance gate.

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Views 22 May My Top 5 South America Travel Destinations
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Ingmar Griffioen, a.k.a. El Grifo, spent nine weeks travelling the continent and to study Spanish in Buenos Aires and in Cusco. We, at Dos Manos Travel Agency asked him what he enjoyed the most. In his response, he said he would have loved to stay longer and enjoy the many new friendships with his fellow students at the AMAUTA Spanish School, as well as visit more places. Even so, he provided us with a Top 5 of his most beautiful and impressive travel experiences in South America:

  1. Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu

    My Top 5 South America Travel Destinations One of the seven recent world wonders and the place on your ‘to-see’ list in Latin America. Due to its superb setting, which makes the ‘lost city’ invisible from the valley below, the Spanish conquistadores were, thankfully, oblivious to its existence. The impressive Inca ruins have only been discovered about 100 years ago, but the proximity to the fascinating old capital of the Incas, Cusco, and the unbelievable experience of hiking the Wayna Picchu mountain offering its majestic views over the remains of Machu Picchu as well as the green Urubamba river valley flanked by the peaks of the mighty Andes mountains, make this a true number 1.

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Views 30 Abr On staying put or travelling and the benefits of a little bit of water…
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Most people I’ve met through my Spanish language school AMAUTA are travellers. They come to Buenos Aires, mostly at the start of their journey, to learn or improve their Spanish and after a few weeks they move on to explore other parts of Argentina and some even the rest of Latin America.

I am more of a go-to-somewhere-new-and-hang-out-there-for-a-while kind of girl. I wanted to write my first book here and therefore I arranged for a place to stay for four months because whenever I travel, I get distracted and distraction was not what I thought I needed.

On staying put or travelling and the benefits of a little bit of water

But being among travellers does something to you. It has to do with the remarkable stories, splendid facebook pictures and the sparkle in their eyes when they talk about their adventures. Some of my friends went on extended weekends to the Iguazu waterfalls and/or Uruguay during their time at Amauta and came back beaming. ‘I am here to stay’, I thought at first. ‘No need to leave and get all worked up about a World Heritage Site (Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay) or the most magnificent cascades of the southern hemisphere.’ But it didn’t last. I succumbed. ‘A trip or two won’t harm me’, I told myself when I booked my trip to Iguazu. And of course it didn’t.
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Views 23 Ene How to Be a Responsible Traveler
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If you want to come and visit Latin America, for sure you are interested in ancient cultures, amazing nature and you also want to be a responsible Traveler that does not cause any harm.

Here are some tips; please follow the following guidelines both before and during your visit. By doing this you can be a responsible trekker and traveler!

  1. Prepare Beforehand:
  2. Start by learning about Latin America before you travel! Read up on the culture, traditions, religion, history and politics. This will give you an idea of what to expect when you arrive in the country and also help you dress and act accordingly.  It’s also a good idea to buy a Spanish phrase book or take Spanish classes so that you can interact with the local people. This is a good website for Spanish Lessons all over LatinAmerica: www.studyspanishlatinamerica.com

  3. Interact with the Locals:
  4. Look for situations for cultural exchange. Getting to know the person sitting next to you on the local bus or the person cooking your food is often a rewarding experience for both people involved. It is also a great opportunity to practice your Spanish language skills! The local people in Latin America are especially friendly and open to getting to know travelers!

    How to Be a Responsible Traveler
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Views 21 Ene So the Inca Trail Trek is Sold Out… Now What?
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If you want to do the famous inca Trail in Peru, you need to know you have to book this between 2 – 4 month before arrival, according to the time of year. If you don’t, you are likely to discover that the Inca Trail Trek is completely sold out by the time you want to arrange the trek. Do NOT panic! Even though you cannot trek the Classic Inca Trail, there are still plenty of scenic and adventurous options for visiting Machu Picchu and doing some trekking. Here are the most popular alternatives to the Inca Trail Trek:

One option is to take the train to Machu Picchu! There are three different train services that run to Machu Picchu: the Backpacker Train, the Vistadome Train, and the Hiram Bingham Train. Each train service is priced differently to fit the budgets of different travelers. Train tours to Machu Picchu are usually one day tours, but can be combined with an extra night in Aguas Calientes if you want to spend more time visiting the ruins.

The Backpacker Train
This is the cheapest service but still a comfortable mode of travel to Machu Picchu.

The Vistadome Train
This is a faster and more comfortable way of getting to Machu Picchu. Each train carriage has enlarged side, front, and overhead windows providing panoramic views of the mountain terrain on all sides. This is also a more scenic way of getting to Machu Picchu.

So the Inca Trail Trek is Sold Out… Now What?

The Hiram Bingham Train
This is a luxury train ride and is for those travelers who want to make the most out of their excursion to Machu Picchu.  Breakfast, snacks, cocktails, and a lovely dinner with live music are served onboard this exquisite train.  Enjoy an afternoon tea at the famous Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, located at the entrance to the ruins.  A professional guide will be with you during the whole trip, including the train journey. This is a luxurious, yet pricey way of getting to Machu Picchu.

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Views 19 Ene How to Book the Inca Trail in Peru: Our Five Step Stress-Free Guide
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The Inca Trail is one of the most famous treks of Latin America and takes you in 4 breathtaking days to the amazing Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, in Peru.
Unfortunately many people who visit Peru miss the opportunity to do this trek, because the booking rules are a bit complicated.
Not anymore for you with our Five Step Stress-Free guide.

Step 1: Decide which Inca Trail Trek is right for you. The Classic Inca Trail Trek lasts 4 days and 3 nights and the Short Inca Trail Trek lasts 2 days and 1 night. It is also important to note that this trek involves a lot less trekking and camping. Which trek do you have time for and how much trekking do you really feel like doing? For more alternative options read our article So the Inca Trail Trek is Sold Out… Now What?

How to Book the Inca Trail in Peru: Our Five Step Stress-Free Guide

Step 2: Check for availability. We recommend booking your Inca Trail Trek approximately three months in advance, especially for the high season (from June through August). This is also the dry season so the weather is nicer for trekking! The Inca Trail is closed during February for maintenance every year. You can only book the trek “ last minute” (this is about 6 weeks in advance), if you are booking for the very low season, which lasts from November through January. The Peruvian government limits the number of people, including trekkers, guides, porters, etc., that are allowed on the trail to 500 per day. To check the number of spaces available on any given day, visit the official Peruvian Ministry of Culture website: www.machupicchu.gob.pe or send an e-mail to us at info@dosmanosperu.com.  Inmportant: if the trail is sold out at one travel agency it is really sold out everywhere and there is no chance of booking with a different travel agency. Don’t waste your time contacting every travel agency in Cusco! It is also not possible to book your trek after another trekker has cancelled because individual passport numbers are used to book spaces on the trail.

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